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Rescue Report: Opal, and a Visit from Mom

Cate Lamm, an avid horsewoman, has been a part of Colorado Horse Rescue (www.chr.org) for 10 years. There, she’s served as head of the adoption committee, has acted as general manager and now works as a rehabilitation trainer. Lamm has owned a number of her own rescue horses and has 20 years of equine experience. Based in Longmont, Colorado, she’s also the editorial assistant of The Trail Rider (www.trailridermag.com), sister publication of MyHorseDaily.com.

Mom and Opal, Banjo and I. My two dogs Danny and Toby!

With Banjo’s training coming along well, it was time to get my mare, Opal, back in shape. She’d been recovering from a soft-tissue injury she suffered before I got her.

Opal is a very forward mare; when I first got her, her favorite trick was to bolt! She is 16 hands high and 1,300 pounds, and when she decides to go it’s like being launched from cannon!

I was a pretty tough cookie back then, too, so when she bolted, I’d just laugh and go with her until she asked me to slow down. Then I’d get a lovely relaxed canter, and we’d stop and pant!

Last winter, my mother told me she wanted to come for a visit in the spring.  She’s in her 60s, but I wanted her to be able to ride Opal. I had only a few months to get Opal ready. What to do?

Let me explain. When I was a little girl, I was horse crazy from the start! My mother told me that horses were the first animals I recognized and would call out for. When I got a little older, my room was filled with stuffed horses, Breyer horses, horse posters, horse everything!

I constantly begged my parents for a horse. When I was 8, my family moved to Tennessee, and we bought a little farm. For horses! I got my first horse, Trigger. He came with a halter and a lead rope. I didn’t wait for the saddle and bridle–I started riding him bareback! Thank goodness, he was a saint.

That was the start of many years of riding, breeding, and training horses.  My childhood wasn’t idyllic, but I have many fond memories of riding with my mother. So, I really wanted her visit to be a time when we could relive the good old days of riding together.  I had to get Opal ready.

I began with the same ground work I’d used with Banjo. Opal hadn’t been worked in a round pen and wasn’t familiar with ground work, but she took to it very well.

When Opal was in the round pen, she’d sometimes lose it and bolt like crazy. I’d ask her to change directions until she began to slow down and ask questions again. She went from being reactionary to thinking again.

It didn’t take long. Opal began to put it all together, learning that taking off only meant more work for her, and staying put was less work. I was thrilled with the way she progressed.

All my work paid off. When we started under saddle again, Opal was perfect, no bolting. I rode her all over the farm, and she was an angel.

When my mom came to visit, we were able to have a really nice ride together: me on Banjo, my rescue horse, and my mom on Opal, my unexpected addition. It was a time of bonding for my mother and me.

I have something else to thank my horses for, bringing my mother and I close again.

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